I made a 10-minute video of our 2014 hunting season, hope you enjoy it!
I really don’t remember the last time that I took Dakota hunting by herself, but Saturday afternoon was her turn to do some duck hunting. I was hoping that the wind would push the ducks off the river and into the sloughs and ponds, and was a little surprised to find no other hunters at the first location we hunted.
There wasn’t much flying, but since the sun would soon be setting, I figured it would pick up. In the meantime, I decided to jump shoot any ducks that might already be there. A small flock of teal swung by at high speed and dropped into a pond, so we went after them.
Judging the wind direction, I approached as close as possible to where it appeared they landed and then sent Dakota into the cattails to flush them. What she flushed was a flock of about 50 ducks but I miscalculated, and it would have been a longer shot than I was willing to take.
I could have brought several down, but it wouldn’t have been a kill shot and Dakota would never have been able to get a wounded duck in a pond that size; a wounded duck will dive and swim underwater to pop up somewhere else.
Dakota was beginning to slow down so we drove to the next area, saving us about a 2 mile walk. Here were 2 hunters set up in cattails near one large pond, but I never heard any shots from them.
We hunted the sloughs for another hour and Dakota was noticeably slowing down and beginning to limp a little from her arthritis. At 9 ½ years old, her hunting days are coming to an end as with Sophie.
Seeing how she was slowing down, I cut the hunt short and we hunted our way back to the truck. The other hunters had given up and were gone by the time we returned, so it didn’t appear that they were any more successful than me. Although I may take Dakota out again for a short duck hunt, this was likely her only hunt for the year.
Today was the opening of waterfowl season locally, and Sophie, just two months shy of her 12th birthday, got the honor of ushering in the season. Wade, a friend of mine, arrived before sunup and we hit the field about half-an-hour after shooting hours began.
There was a good deal of shooting early on but none of it was ours. We did flush three ducks and then a single, but were unable to get off a shot. Then a loner came flying overhead. I missed my two shots but Wade hit on his first shot and with that, got his first duck.
The duck hit the water just a couple of feet from shore but Sophie was happy to make the short retrieve. We eventually set up next to railroad tracks that crossed a slough and got several more shots at passing ducks, mostly teal that dipped and darted over us.
Then a pair of pintail came over and I knocked out several feathers with my first shot but it was my second shot that brought it down. This time Sophie had a longer retrieve to make and although she’s slowed considerably with age, pulled off a nice retrieve for our second bird.
The weather was perfect for everything but duck hunting, and eventually they stopped flying. Sophie was also beginning to stiffen up, so we made our way back to the truck, checking several more ponds for ducks on the way back.
A Fish and Game officer was waiting upon our return, and he checked our shells, guns and birds. We visited for a few minutes, and he told us that someone had reported seeing hunters shoot a Pheasant and were searching for it with their dog; Pheasant season doesn’t begin for a couple of weeks yet. However we hadn’t seen anything.
Back home, Sophie got a Rimadyl first thing before we cleaned the ducks. But stiff and sore as she is, she loved every minute of it.
On Friday we had the stitches taken out of her ear from the hematoma; they were dissolving stitches but the knots needed to be removed. Earlier in the day, I had taken Mia and Doc partridge hunting but again, saw no birds.
We began training just after 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning, but with 14 dogs and 3 hours of training, I’m just going to post a few of the pictures. We had quite a variety of dogs: Labs, Brittanys, GSP, English Setter and Weimaraner. I wanted to focus on Doc and Mia’s honoring, and my trainer’s assessment was that they did very well, both pointing and retrieve, as well as honoring.
Doc on point, 8-2-14, although he was supposed to be the honor dog.
For her reward, Mia retrieves a pigeon. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of Doc retrieving his pigeon.
Here are a couple of pictures from today’s therapy visits.
Sophie followed Doc’s training session and I ran mostly doubles with her, which she handled with no problem. Age is really catching up with her and she’s losing strength in her back end. She fell over several times while stopping to pick up the bumper, but climbed back onto her feet and finished the retrieve as though she planned it that way.
She was happy to keep going but I figured about 15 minutes was enough for now. Perhaps with a little more consistency, she can build up to longer sessions but I’m leaving that up to her.
Dakota was last to train and I just limited her to a series of single marks, Deciding long ago that she’d never be able to run doubles. Having serious attention deficit issues, a single mark is all she can handle.
Surprisingly, she did a terrific job of taking a straight line to the bumpers which was a big improvement in something she’s always had trouble doing.